On Tuesday, Montana Senator Steve Daines hosted a scoping meeting at MSU-Billings, to give Montana citizens an opportunity denied to them by the EPA and the Obama administration to voice their opinions on coal.

Numerous individuals took their allotted three minutes to voice their concerns about the decline of the coal industry in Montana, as well as to promote the argument of climate change and how it has affected the industry.

Former State Senator Tom Towe of Billings said he helped to sponsor the original coal tax bill and was a principal proponent of the Montana Coal Trust Fund.

"I want to say this," Towe said. "Montana is the Treasure State. We have a valuable treasure in copper, which is still there and much of it has been mined already, but now the key is coal, That's the treasure of the Treasure State. I don't believe in leaving it in the ground. We've got 20 percent of the nation's coal supply and from eight to ten percent of the world's coal supply."

Towe, however, said climate change must be a factor in what Montana does with its coal.

""We can't ignore climate change, we can't deny it. If we're going to build and mine, we must do it clean so that we can look the future generations in the eye and say 'sure, we let them mine coal, but we made sure it was done in an environmentally clean way'. The Energy Information Administration says that we now get 38 percent of our energy from coal, and by the year 2040 we'll be getting 36.6 percent of our energy from coal."

Towe said coal is not dead, and that it will continue to be used into the future.

Senator Daines will be on Talk Back on Wednesday to talk further about the coal industry in Montana and the efforts underway in Congress to revitalize the industry.